It’s All in the Name…Why NIH is Changing to NOFO

Posted August 30, 2023

By Paul Cotton, Ph.D., RDN
Director, Office of Extramural Research Activities
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Today, we have an exciting development to discuss—the adoption of a federal standard acronym, "NOFO," by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to replace the familiar "FOA" (Funding Opportunity Announcement). In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this change, the benefits it brings, and what it means for researchers and grant applicants.

The Need for Clarity and Consistency:
In the realm of grant funding, clarity and consistency are paramount. Over time, the use of different acronyms, such as "FOA," "RFA," and "PA," has led to confusion and hindered effective communication across federal agencies. Recognizing the importance of a unified approach, NIMHD and NIH have taken the initiative to adopt the federal standard acronym "NOFO" for their funding announcements. This change aims to streamline the process, enhance transparency, and eliminate ambiguity.

Introducing NOFO: Notice of Funding Opportunity:
The transition from FOA to NOFO represents a shift towards a more standardized and intuitive terminology. The acronym "NOFO," or Notice of Funding Opportunity, provides a clear and concise description of the purpose and nature of the funding announcement. It offers a straightforward way for researchers, institutions, and organizations to identify and engage with relevant funding opportunities, regardless of the federal agency involved.

Improved Understanding and Accessibility:
By adopting the NOFO acronym, NIMHD and NIH seek to improve understanding and accessibility for grant applicants. The consistent use of the term across federal agencies will reduce confusion and allow researchers to more easily identify funding opportunities aligned with their research interests and objectives. This change aligns with broader efforts to enhance transparency and promote equitable access to funding opportunities for the scientific community.

Navigating the Transition:
While the adoption of NOFO brings positive changes, it is essential for researchers and grant applicants to familiarize themselves with the new terminology. Understanding the nuances and implications of NOFOs will allow applicants to navigate the funding landscape more effectively and align their proposals with the specific objectives outlined in each opportunity. Staying updated with the latest guidance and resources provided by NIMHD, NIH, and other federal agencies will ensure a smooth transition and maximize the chances of success.

The adoption of the federal standard acronym "NOFO" by NIMHD and NIH marks a significant step towards clarity, consistency, and improved accessibility in grant funding. By embracing this change, researchers and grant applicants can expect a more streamlined, transparent, and user-friendly experience when exploring funding opportunities. As we move forward, let us embrace the NOFO era, leveraging its benefits to advance research, address health disparities, and drive innovation for the betterment of society.

Categories: Research Programs & Funding Opportunities
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